Ginseng, Panax ginseng, is a highly stimulating adaptogen used for treating many ailments and conditions.
Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Ren shen (Chinese)
Ginseng is native to northeastern China, eastern Russia and North Korea. It is virtually extinct in the wild. However, it is wildly cultivated in China, North Korea and South Korea.
Height: 75 cm (2 1/2 ft)
Width: 30 cm (3 ft)
Roots: light yellowish to white and aromatic
Flowers: yellow green
Leaves: palmate with 5 leaflets and toothed margins
Fruits: bright red and round
Blooms: June to August
Asian ginseng prefers to grow under the shade of conifers and broad leaved trees in cold tempered forests. Avoid planting directly under conifers and shallow rooted trees to avoid competition for nutrients. For best results, plant Asian ginseng under deep rooted trees such as oak.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8
Germination: Difficult and inconsistent. Sow fresh or stratified seeds 1 cm (about 1/2 in) deep in pots with rich organic matter. Leave it exposed to winter freeze. It can take two seasons for the seeds to germinate. After germination, grow one to three years before transplanting to a hardwood forest. You can also sow directly in the hardwood forest
Spacing: 30 cm (1 ft)
Soil: moist, well-drained, deep and rich with organic matter
pH: slightly acidic, neutral
Exposure: shade or partial shade
Pests: Gophers and voles
Garden Design: Asian ginseng is a wonderful addition to woodland gardens and to shady areas under hardwood trees
Companion planting: Grow Asian ginseng with plants common in its natural habitat such as fir, birch, hornbeam, spruce, pine, oak , linden, dong quai (Angelica sinensis), and five flavored fruit (Schisandra chinensis).
At least seven years must go by before Asian ginseng is ready for harvest.
You can sun dry your Asian ginseng or dry it in a dehydrator set to low
Triterpenoid saponins (ginsenosides, panaxans), sesquiterpenes
Adaptogen, antioxidant, central nervous system stimulant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, tonic, demulcent
Sweet, slightly bitter
MEDICINAL USE OF ASIAN GINSENG
Considered to be the most stimulating of the adaptogens, Asian ginseng is a wonderful immune modulator used to normalize immune function. It can bolster a weakened immune system as well as reduce excessive immune response in case of allergies and autoimmune conditions. It can prevent or reverse leukopenia (low white blood cell count) in patients undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Asian ginseng is also good for adrenal depletion, adrenal exhaustion, excess cholesterol and triglycerides, lousy blood circulation, mild hypertension, and to prevent atherosclerosis. Since Asian ginseng is moistening, it is also used for dried coughs.
TCM: Ginseng supplements the five yin organs, calms the mind, quiets the soul, opens the heart and prolongs life. It nourishes the Chinese spleen, lung and kidney chi, restores vitality.
Used internally for:
- Regulating the immune system
- Leukopenia (low white blood cell count) in patients undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy
- Adrenal fatigue
- Mild type 2 diabetes
- Reducing cholesterol and triglycerides
- Improving blood circulation
- Atherosclerosis (prevention)
- Mild hypertension
- Dried cough
Recommended daily dosage:
Tincture: (1:5): 20-40 drops three times per day
Decoction: In a nonmetal pot with , slowly decoct 1-2 tsp of ground herb for half an hour. Let steep for an additional hour. Take up to two cups per day
Type A people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia or hypertension should avoid taking large quantities of Asian ginseng as it may worsen the condition. They should also avoid drinking coffee along with it.
Asian ginseng may also increase the effects of warfarin (a blood thinner), of medications that lower blood sugar as well as older types of antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors – MAOIs).
Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Khalsa, K. Tierra, Michael. 2008. The way of Ayurvedic herbs. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press
Schafer, P. 2012. The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator’s Guide to Small-scale Organic Herb Production. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing Co